As the last leaves fall from deciduous trees, cupboards fill with yummy holiday treats, and bears dig in for a season of sleep, are your ears ready for winter? From allergies and colder temps to the louder sounds of the season, winter can do a number on your ears if you’re caught unprepared.
Experience every moment of winter cheer with these five tips on taking care of your ears:
Block Out the Cold.
Brrr! When winter temperatures dip, it doesn’t mean your ears have to take a hit from the cold weather. Excessive moisture, cold, and wind can do battle with your ears, so keep them warm and dry with a crocheted or knitted headband, fleece ear warmers, a hat, or other snug gear.
Act on Allergies.
Nearly 8 percent of American adults have allergic rhinitis or hay fever, according to the American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology, which can lead to uncomfortable symptoms such as plugged ears. Allergies can occur in winter, too, so discuss any allergic reactions — including ear problems — with your doctor to determine the best treatment.
Protect Against Noise.
Whether snowblowers, stadium ball games, or concerts, noise from power equipment and winter entertainment can be rough on your ears — reaching well above the danger level of 85 decibels. Use snug-fitting earplugs or earmuffs to curb noise exposure, one of the most preventable causes of hearing loss.
Clean With Care.
If your winter regimen includes taking excess wax from your ears, do it with care. Improper cleaning can push cerumen deeper into your ear canal, damage the eardrum, trigger infection, and cause hearing loss. Instead of cotton swabs — a no-no — use a warm, soft cloth after showering, or soften the wax with water, olive oil, or a commercial solution, as long as you don’t have a perforated eardrum. In case of ear pain or other problems, seek attention from your audiologist or physician.
Watch Out for Moisture.
Taking your swimming indoors for the season? Protect against conditions such as otitis externa or “swimmer’s ear,” which typically results from bacterial or fungal growth when skin in the ear canal is potentially irritated from activities such as swimming. Though treatable, the condition can lead to temporary hearing loss and other problems, so prevention matters. Using quality, properly inserted earplugs helps keep the water — and the threat of infection — out of your ears.
Together let’s get your hearing health in shape for winter adventures and fun. Contact our hearing care team today for a comprehensive hearing exam or to learn about custom hearing protection!
- American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. Allergy Statistics. http://www.aaaai.org/about-aaaai/newsroom/allergy-statistics. Accessed Nov. 8, 2018.